She became the first woman in school and CIAA history to participate in football and the first in HBCU history to score.
Pulphus recalled her thoughts leading up to her historic moment and what it means to her. Before entering the field, she was aware of the potential impact of scoring the extra point, but she didn’t let the moment become overwhelming.
“For me, well at the time, obviously, I know, ok I’ll be making history, but that wasn’t the main focus. Obviously the main focus was to make it because it would have been pretty embarrassing if I didn’t,” Pulphus told the media earlier this week via zoom.
“When I was going on the field, it was really just lock in and just do what I do at practice and make sure I get my head down, you know, all the fundamentals so that I could make it.”
The spotlight wasn’t too bright for her because this wasn’t her first time making football related headlines.
In 2020, a photo of her as a kicker in high school was used in a Microsoft Tablet commercial during Super Bowl LIV. Pulphus was asked what was more nerve racking, kicking Saturday’s field goal or being in a Super Bowl commercial?
“Probably the Super Bowl commercial because I just never know, that’s going to be,” she replied. “I mean, kicking a field goal, I know I can do it, so it’s just kind of like routine.”
The photo used in the commercial shows Pulphus standing with her friend Olivia McKay, who was a kicker on their high school team. Before the commercial, the duo broke barriers and made headlines as women who were playing high school football.
Writing history in high school and in college was never the plan for Pulphus. She played two other sports and unexpectedly played football.
“Growing up, I’ve always played soccer and started running track and I wasn’t the biggest football fan. I watched it when my dad and my brother watched the Browns or whatever on TV, but I didn’t grow up planning to play football. In high school, I really just did it just to see if I could, like, if I could kick. And after that, I didn’t plan on doing it in college, but since I knew I could do it and I’ve done it before, just kind of said, why not?”
Pulphus arrived at Shaw University in 2020 and has played three years for both the women’s and track and field teams. Adding football as a third sport to her athletic career is an amazing accomplishment that many people can’t follow. She walked through the process of how she joined the football team at Shaw and became one of their kickers.
“Before last spring, before I even approached any of the coaches, a couple of the boys said they knew I kicked in high school, so why don’t you kick here? I didn’t really take them seriously, but then when I realized that they were being serious, I just went up to Coach Coop. I seen him and I just asked him if I could. He said he had no problem with it. He talked to the coaches, they had no problem with it as long as I could actually kick and it wasn’t like a joke,”
India Pulphus proved that she can kick for Shaw University and now she joins other woman college football players such as Jackson State kicker Leilani Armenta, who is the first woman to play football in school history, and Shenandoah safety Haley Van Voorhis, who is the first woman to play college football in a position other than kicker.
Pulphus understands the impact that she has on women and girls and the inspiration that they can gain from watching her break down barriers to play football.
“If you feel like you can do anything and you’re able to and you’ve done it before, just do it”